Intimacy, Tenderness and Fluid Embraces

Although clean and uncomplicated in design, François Henri Galland’s watercolour paintings resist the stylistic-umbrella term of ‘minimalist.’ Instead, he offers the term ‘sweet expressionism,’ as the best way to describe his attempts to make visible what is not. Francois is interested in the power of art to both represent a feeling and provide a substitute during times when that feeling is lacking。

At times, the amorphous images can be distinguished as two lovers embracing, and at times they simply appear as a representation of a feeling on paper. Layering shapes, figures and faces on top of one another using a range of pastel pinks and deep purples and greens that compliment and contrast one another, Francois creates impressive and alluring portaits.

By connecting his use of watercolour to his childhood memories that influence his work, he shows that a work of art’s story is not only shared through the visual content but the medium itself. 

THE PLUS: Have you always been into creating and can you tell us a bit about your journey to the artist you are today?

François Henri Galland: I have been painting since 2007, and I am also an art teacher. I always loved art, particularly decorative arts but I didn’t feel the need to produce one kind of art. It came really as a surge. Now I paint every day.

I paint when I have the desire to do it, through different moments of the day. There are no rules. My life is very quiet, I paint at home in an apartment where just a few people are invited to come into, it’s a protected environment.

TP: What does watercolour mean to you?

FHG: I love the mix of ink and water you can find in Chinese painting and I did some of my own using traditional bamboo tools. I’m European so it’s not the same, I was disappointed and transitioned to watercolour. I had worked with many mediums but not watercolour, I felt very free when doing so.

When I was a child, I almost died drowning in a water hole. I saved myself having a vision of my body dead. Watercolour is a reminder of this traumatic moment that says: making representations with water saves life.

TP: How would you describe your style?

FHG: I paint intuitively. Although I am not sure intuition is a style, I can’t describe it otherwise. My aim is to make visible what is not. Sweet expressionism maybe? At the beginning some people spoke about minimalism but in my opinion, minimalism is an American art style of the 60s and not really what I do.

TP: You are known for painting warm embraces, kisses and bodies intertwined. Can you speak a bit about the role of intimacy in your work?

FHG: Embracing people was for me a desire of love. I felt alone when I painted the first one in 2013. Today all is OK. We truly need love in this moment. Creation and love are very close.

TP: You transitioned from inks to water colours in the past years. Have you played with any other mediums or would you like to do so in the future?

FHG: Currently, I don’t plan on experimenting with other mediums: this one is perfect with my personal story and my message. I love to take photos, but these remain private.

TP: Who is the inspiration for your illustrations?

FHG: There are no rules: my inspiration comes sometimes from an existing picture but can be interpretation of a watercolour that is an interpretation of an other one that is the interpretation of, until the initial picture becomes lost. It can be an invention too. I love to travel to feel and capture the sensations of different places.

TP: What fascinatess you?

FHG: Beauty, love… Sorry if that is basic but its true. There is so much beauty in the world, I can sometimes watch the sky for a long time and it makes me happy. Transmission fascinates me. How you can make people wonder and evaluate.